Emulating Serena Williams: My career redirect

The past year has brought several challenges for me. In early November 2021, I suffered the start of the retina problems that then continued to plague me for several months. (Comment from my first-born: “Mom, you know you’re not 30 years old any more”… Not terribly well-received by me at the time, though I’ve come to terms with that truth over the months since. Today, my vision is largely though still not wholly restored.)

When that eye thing happened, I was already pondering the future plans for the two entities I was running: my sole-owned publishing company Just World Books, LLC, and the non-profit I have headed since late 2015, Just World Educational. Regarding JWB, back in 2017-2018 I had already vowed not to issue any new titles from the company, given the huge costs involved, but rather, to continue to keep our existing titles in print and updated as necessary… Which is what I’ve done.

Regarding JWE, by the time my eye thing happened I knew the org was somewhat running out of steam. Its initial purpose, back when my colleagues who joined its board and I founded it in 2015-2016, had been that I could donate JWB to it, and it could then raise funds from donors to continue the publishing mission. The IRS stymied that plan… but we soldiered on, pursuing other kinds of educational projects. I think the web-based educational projects that JWE presented in 2020 -2021 were all excellent, and distinctive! Check them out: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

But then the eye thing happened. The whole of winter last year was pretty miserable, what with that, the Omicron variant of Covid, my two adult daughters falling sick with it, etc. In early 2022, I did produce six episodes of a podcast project with my talented Palestinian colleague Yousef al-Jamal. Then on February 24, Russia invaded Ukraine.

That same day, I wrote this analytical essay here on Just World News. It was titled, “Where to now, the ‘world order’?”, and looked at the broad world-order implications of Russia’s action. I’m still pretty proud of it.

That development jack-knifed me into wanting to put on another big webinar series along the lines of the ones I’d done in 2020. So that was what I did, eye-patch, and pretty intense post-operative fatigue, and all.

I am proud that Just World Ed was one of the first orgs anywhere in the world that took such a broad, searching look at the implications of the Ukraine crisis. Between March 2 and March 28, we presented eight sessions in our series Ukraine Crisis: Building a Just and Peaceful World, involving 17 smart guests representing a diversity of viewpoints who were co-hosted by my distinguished JWE board colleague Richard Falk and myself. I then collated the most important points raised in those conversations into a 32-page report that we released on April 19. In it, we included a list of eight policy recommendations, chief among them being the need for a speedy ceasefire and the start of negotiations over final-status issues between Ukraine and Russia and regarding the security situation in central/Eastern Europe more broadly. It has been energizing to see those demands gathering increasing traction here in the United States since then!

That Ukraine project of ours then segued into another one, The Urgency of a Nuclear Weapons Ban, which once again produced and presented some valuable educational resources. Then, over the past few weeks, I was working with JWB author Miko Peled on the release of a new edition of his seminal 2012 memoir The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine.

But throughout all these months, I have also been itching to get back into doing my own writing, getting my own voice back out there rather than endlessly getting pulled back into acting as an impresario for the voices of others. I felt a definite echo there from the role I played for so many years as a parent, a position in which one very frequently has to put one’s own desires and career goals behind the needs of the children. And for my own three talented and wonderful children, I am super, super-glad I did that. (Does that need saying?)

Anyway. I recently turned seventy. So I realize it’s true: I am not thirty any more. But I am certainly happy to take a cue from Serena Williams and say that it’s time to evolve my career into a new phase.

Hence, in the New Year, I will be launching a new writing project which will be centered around my own writing. Specifically, I’m planning to write and publish a weekly essay in which I’ll look at some of the very biggest, “world-order” (or geopolitical) aspects and implications of the ever-evolving international scene. I’ll put a notice here on JWN when that launches. But if you want to one of the first to learn about the project, please send in this little form here.

I did contemplate just publishing the essays in the new project here on JWN. But JWN has always, since I started it back in February 2003, been a bit of a mishmash. (Among many other things, it was the original home of ‘Project 500 Years’, which was my regular writing project from January through September of 2021. P500Y can also be read/enjoyed, in reverse-chrono order, here.) Anyway, I have decided to launch an all-new website for the new project, with the essays there all fairly well edited and presented, while I’ll keep JWN as more of a scratchpad: a place where I can write shorter quick takes on things, or more personal musings, or pieces that are totally off the topic, or whatever I damn well please.

I will also continue to be keeping Just World Books and Just World Ed going, though not at anything like the level that JWB had at its heyday in 2015-17, or that JWE has had until more recently. But both orgs continue to makes lots of great resources available to the questioning public– and in the case of Just World Ed, all the resources presented there are quite free of charge. So do please continue to support it! Over the coming months, we’ll be focusing there mainly on adding fresh and thought-provoking content to its blog.

But now, on to the planning for my new project….